Review: Finnair 3270 A321 Business Class Barcelona to Helsinki

Introduction
Finnair 90 A350-900 Business Class Bangkok to Helsinki
Finnair 833 A321 Business Class Helsinki to London Heathrow
British Airways 462 767-300 Euro Traveller London Heathrow to Madrid
Hotel Preciados Madrid
Hotel Catalonia Square Barcelona
Finnair 3270 A321 Business Class Barcelona to Helsinki
Finnair 89 A350-900 Business Class Helsinki to Bangkok
Cathay Pacific 754 A340-300 Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong


We arrived at Barcelona El Prat Airport 3 hours before departure at the Hotel Catalonia Square’s recommendation, as we needed to claim a tax free refund for our shopping. The process was rather tedious, and there was an astonishingly large amount of clueless Chinese travellers who didn’t understand the staff’s instructions, which was unfortunate.

IMG_2506

Finnair Barcelona Airport Check In

We made our way to Finnair check in, where a gigantic line had begun to form in the non-priority lanes. Thankfully, in contrast to the situation at Bangkok check in, there was no one waiting in the priority lines.

IMG_2508

Finnair Barcelona Airport Check In

We spent the rest of the time prior to our departure at the airport shopping area, which was nice enough and had a bunch of high end shops. We also went up to the Barcelona Priority Pass lounge to grab a couple bottles of water.

IMG_2511

Finnair Barcelona Airport Lounge

By this time, we decided to make our way to the gate a little early just to board our flight a little early. Big. Mistake.

There was only one line for boarding for the flight. There was one poor lady who had to control a hoard of passengers who had lined up. There were English announcements. However, those were drowned out in the loud shouting of passengers, a crappy speaker system and other announcements from different flights.

By this time, there were a crap ton of passengers who were lined up, some of which were priority passengers. My parents were a little anxious over being able to board the plane quickly, so we approached the counter, where we attempted to get the attention of the poor lady who was running everything. However, as they were trying to board an unaccompanied minor, we weren’t helped.

Then, boarding was called for all priority passengers. However, no one seemed to quite get that and everyone just started rushing towards the plane. Then, the gate agents invited all priority passengers to cut in the line, which just caused an even bigger commotion with people rushing forward.

Then, when my father’s boarding pass was scanned, it was double scanned which meant another 3 minute hold up as the gate staff tried to figure out what to do. Eventually, after a lot. Of. Screaming. We made it to the jetbridge and onto our plane.

IMG_2513

Barcelona Airport Jetbridge

IMG_2515.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321

We were welcomed aboard by the exceedingly friendly flight attendant, and made our way into the cabin.

Finnair Flight 3270
Friday, July 15th, 2016
Origin: Barcelona El Prat (BCN) Gate: B56 Dep: 10:15 (10:55)
Destination: Helsinki (HEL) Gate: 28 Arr: 15:05 (16:05)
Duration: 3 h 55 min (4 h 20 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

We made our way into the familiar confines of Finnair’s European business class cabin, which I’m reviewing once again. I’ll note once again that it’s basically an Economy cabin with the middle seat blocked. It’s certainly a great idea for management, in order to adjust cabin sizes as required by passenger demand. However, that comes at the cost of a more comfortable cabin for Business passengers. Finnair hasn’t also really done anything to differentiate a EuroBusiness seat with an Economy seat by adding a centre console, so as far as EuroBusiness products go this wasn’t an especially good one.

IMG_2517.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Cabin

There were 1 pillow and 2 blankets placed on the “complimentary seat” from Finnair. One of the blankets were washed while the other one wasn’t. If there are two passengers in a specific block of seating, wouldn’t it be smarter to have two pillows and blankets, preferably in similar condition just to make the experience a little more consistent?

IMG_2519.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Pillows and Blankets

I made my way to my seat, and settled down in the seats which were of the slimline variety and were therefore quite uncomfortable.

I found it interesting that I felt that my seat on this flight felt less spacious than the seat aboard my flight from Helsinki to London. It’s interesting to note that Finnair recently started renovations aboard some of their older A321 aircraft to cram in more seats, which they did by removing a large closet and one of the Business Class toilets. Perhaps they also decided to add a wee bit of legroom for passengers during these reconfigurations.

IMG_2520.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Legroom

The cabin wasn’t in that good of a state. For example, you can see in the image below that the seat covers were peeling of the seats.

IMG_2521.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Seatback

There were also two literature pockets, which I thought was a nice touch. It was nice to be able to have a bit of extra storage space to cram books, papers, tablets and whatnot.

Finnair also offers air nozzles aboard their older generation A321 aircraft, which is a nice feature especially considering that they keep their cabins at warmer temperatures.

IMG_2556.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Passenger Service Unit and Air Nozzles

We were parked next to a NIKI/airberlin hybrid aircraft, which I thought was interesting.

IMG_2528.jpg

NIKI/airberlin Airbus A320

Shortly after all passengers were boarded, the wonderful flight attendants came through the cabin to offer some newspapers to Business Class passengers. It was all done on a really nice newspaper-holder-cart-thingy, which I thought was classy. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a photo of it.

After a wait, our captain came onto the PA and announced a ground delay of 40 minutes. While that normally wouldn’t be a big deal, Finnair relies heavily on connecting passengers between Asia and Europe through “the shortcut” that is Northern Europe. With this delay, many passengers with tighter connections would be stranded in Helsinki.

Loud groans were heard throughout the cabin as passengers pretty much bombarded the flight attendants with questions about if their flight would depart on time. The friendly crew handled it with incredible professionalism and took the time to reassure everyone. Thankfully, no one was overly disruptive, so everything was generally calm.

IMG_2531.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Airshow

I had a portable WiFi machine, so I whipped out my laptop and did a bit of reading/Facebook checking/last minute binge watching.

Just as I started watching a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the cabin crew came around the cabin offering drinks. I passed, and took some pictures of the Aegean Airlines A320 that just came in. Aegean is most notable for having a frequent flyer program that pretty much sold their souls.

IMG_2536.jpg

Aegean Airlines Airbus A320

Eventually, our pilots updated us after only about 35 minutes and said that we had received a take off slot. At this time, the cabin crew came around the cabin doing their pre take-off checks, which were really thorough.

Shortly afterward, we pushed back.

IMG_2541.jpg

Traffic Barcelona Airport

The safety video was played, which was boring as usual. I still paid attention, because, well, boredom.

IMG_2546.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Safety Video

We taxied past some more traffic, including a plethora of Vueling planes (I mean, it’s Barcelona Airport…), as well as an American Airlines A330.

IMG_2550.jpg

Traffic Barcelona Airport

We proceeded to taxi the runway, and met some buildings and other planes headed to destinations around the world.

IMG_2558.jpg

Barcelona Airport Control Tower

IMG_2564.jpg

KLM Boeing 737-800 Barcelona Airport

IMG_2569.jpg

Vueling Airbus A320 Barcelona Airport

Eventually, it was our turn to take off and our captain taxied onto the runway, before beginning our take off role which marked the beginning of the end of a three-week long trip.

IMG_2570.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 View During Takeoff

IMG_2574.jpg

Takeoff Barcelona Airport

IMG_2575.jpg

Takeoff Barcelona Airport

IMG_2579.jpg

Takeoff Barcelona Airport

IMG_2584.jpg

Takeoff Barcelona Airport

The airshow was switched on, which mapped our trip as we flew north to Helsinki. This was going to be a looong flight.

IMG_2586.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Airshow

Finnair’s annoying after take-off video, which goes on and on about duty free pre-purchases was played, which ordinarily would have annoyed me. However, given that I was facing 4 hours in the air without any entertainment, it seemed waaay less painful.

IMG_2593.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class After Take Off Video

Shortly afterward, scented hot towels were distributed by the cabin crew.

IMG_2594.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Hot Towels

IMG_2595.jpg

View upon Cruising Barcelona to Helsinki

Eventually, the friendly flight attendant came through the cabin offering drinks and a snack mix to passengers, which was really, really neat. I mean, on what other airline are you going to receive snacks shaped like clouds and airlines??? I picked Finnair’s signature blueberry juice, which I am in love with to this day.

IMG_2596.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Blueberry Juice and Cloud Hoppers Snack Mix

IMG_2599.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Snack Mix

Refills were also constantly offered by cabin crew, which I found was a nice gesture. For what it’s worth, I found that the service aboard this flight was much more attentive and personalised when compared to the service aboard my previous flight to London. Although Finnair doesn’t train it’s crews to address passengers by name, the crew aboard this flight knew who everyone in the cabin was, and was really attentive to customer needs.

The friendly flight attendant came through the cabin once again to distribute the menus. I was a tad bit disappointed to find that the food was virtually identical to the food served on my flight from Helsinki to London. The starter was a sort of cold fish dish, the main meal was Finnish meatballs with mashed potatoes and the dessert was a baked chocolate good. C’mon, Finland isn’t only known for their meatballs… Finnair catering seriously needs to explore variety in their inflight meals.

IMG_2601.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Menu

At around 1 hour and 45 minutes into the flight, the meal cart was rolled out. The flight attendant working the cabin came and asked people if they wanted their meal now or later. Most passengers elected to have their meals at the time. I thought that it was smart that the flight attendants started the service at around lunch time, which I thought was perfect for a daytime flight.

I thought that it was also nice that the flight attendant offered a “dine on demand” service with this flight, as there were still some passengers sleeping during this time.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the meal.

IMG_2607.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Meal

The smoked salmon with cheese on malt bread was quite nice. While it wasn’t gourmet (or particularly large), it was tasty. The malt bread in particular added quite a bit of flavour into the dish. The Finnish Meatballs were tasty as always, and the beetroot sauce gave the dish a nice kick. The mashed potatoes were soft and tasty, and the savoy cabbage was done well. As for the chocolate cake, it was chocolate cake. ‘Nuff said.

Coffee and tea was offered after the meal service, which I didn’t take advantage of, having been stuffed to the brim.

At this point, we were around 2 hours and 45 minutes into the flight.

IMG_2611.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Wing View Of France

At this time, the drop down monitors started playing reruns of Charlie Chaplin, which were quite entertaining. However, I would have preferred that the airline offered more substantial forms of entertainment, such as tablets, or even a wireless inflight entertainment streaming system, because seriously. The flight felt like f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

IMG_2618.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Charlie Chaplin Rerun

The cabin crew also regularly came through the cabin with a variety of drinks, which was another form of inflight “entertainment”, and was certainly something that made the flight significantly less boring than it was. Because seriously.

IMG_2620.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Blueberry Juice

At this time, the flight attendant came through the cabin with gate information for connecting flights, and reassured passengers that they would make their connections. Although I was sure that we would make the flight on time, the time that we would have spent in the Finnair lounges seemed to be limited greatly.

After what seemed like an eternity, we started our descent into Helsinki Vantaa Airport, and the seat belt signs were switched on.

IMG_2621.jpg

Descent Helsinki Airport

Finnair’s annoying landing video also played, with some useful information about connections and other not-so-useful information about duty free orders. Okay! We get it! You care about duty free purchases! I don’t give a rat’s a$$ about your pre-order program.

IMG_2622.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Landing Video

We descended through more thick layers of clouds.

IMG_2627.jpg

Descent Helsinki Airport

IMG_2635.jpg

Descent Helsinki Airport

Eventually, some views of a rainy Helsinki came into view. My goodness were they an 180° turn from the views that I got two weeks ago upon arrival into Helsinki.

IMG_2641.jpg

Descent Helsinki Airport

We made our way to the runway, and touched down at Helsinki Vantaa airport in some very rainy weather.

IMG_2647.jpg

Touchdown Helsinki Airport

IMG_2649.jpg

Touchdown Helsinki Airport

We were welcomed into Helsinki by the (yes, still very) friendly flight attendants.

IMG_2652.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Landing Airshow

We taxied for a while, and ended up at a remote stand. I mean, I get that there are only a certain number of covered walkways at an airport, but a little bit of planning could go a long way in re-jigging the schedule to ensure that every aircraft is granted a jetbridge.

IMG_2659.jpg

Finnair Airbus A340-300 Helsinki Airport

The seat belt sign was switched off, and we were expecting a short but nasty walk to a waiting bus, ready to whisk us to the main terminal.

Nevermind. We had to wait another 20 minutes to wait for busses to come. Normally, that wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but as I’ve already discussed, Finnair relies heavily on connecting passengers between flights from Europe and Asia at very short times. In theory, with all of the delays that the flight has sustained, some passengers would have missed their connection. Thankfully, that didn’t appear to happen to anyone. However, I think Finnair could really improve their planning.

IMG_2662.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 Bulkhead

I was still getting a little worried at this time, so I hammered off a quick tweet off to Finnair. They didn’t actually reply in time to reassure me, but I thought it was nice that they at least replied to ask how everything went.

IMG_2663.jpg

Eventually, we were let off the plane as the busses arrived. We bid the friendly crew farewell and we were sent on our way to the waiting bus. Thankfully, the bus was parked right next to the airstairs, so we didn’t get drenched in the rain as we boarded the bus.

IMG_2668.jpg

Finnair Airbus A321 After Deplaning

After a short bus ride full of uncomfortable lurches, we were sent on our way to connect to our next flight to Bangkok…

Bottom Line:

Finnair’s regional business class is absolutely nothing special. The seats are basically economy seats with absolutely no inflight entertainment (aside from a single episode of Charlie Chaplin played in the middle of the flight) or inflight WiFi. While the food was simple and tasted quite good, there was very little variation with what was offered across the board which I found to be quite disappointing. The only saving graces of the flights were the friendly and flexible flight attendants who were not only personalised, but also professional and attentive.

If I was just flying one of these legs, I’d definitely save my money.

Advertisements

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s